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The Daily Tar Heel

Napster Decision Gets Some Students Riled

Napster Decision Gets Some Students Riled

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Napster must stop permitting users to share most mp3 files using the company's software.

Napster software, which can be downloaded off the Web, enables users to locate and trade mp3s -- compressed music files -- with other Napster users.

The site has become popular among college students nationwide, and many UNC students fear the ruling will deny them access to music.

"I think (the ruling is) stupid because Napster makes a lot of songs and small groups easily accessible that usually don't get national attention," said sophomore Joy Blackmon, who said she was frustrated by the ruling.

But Marian Moore, vice chancellor for information technology, said students should not be affected by the federal ruling because the UNC Honor Code already makes it illegal for students to share copyrighted information, including mp3s. She said students are permitted to download songs that are not copyrighted, but much of the music accessible on Napster is copyrighted.

And Moore said students do not realize the severity of the charges they might face. Copyright owners can file charges against students and students might also face punitive fines within the Honor Court system, she said.

"The computer depersonalizes the creative output of a person or group of people," Moore said. "Many students don't realize that they are affecting the lives of artists."

But there might be relief for some student listeners if Napster is not completely shut down and users have to pay a minimal fee to download music. "This allows legal access in an efficient manner for the customer and the owner of the copyright," Moore said.

As a result of the new fee, Napster would not be the same for many users. "I have 375 songs downloaded on my computer," Blackmon said. "I won't pay a fee -- just buy less music."

Some students also believe that Napster is beneficial to artists and the new ruling might be a mistake. "I usually hear a song on Napster and buy the album afterwards," said junior Michael Adams. "It is helping artists more than hurting because they are boosting album sales."

Adams also said musicians already make an exorbitant amount of money. "I don't like it because it is just sharing and artists make enough money," he said.

Although varying opinions have erupted over the Napster ruling, sophomore Candice Fisher feels the ruling was bound to happen. "I can understand why record labels were upset -- it was just a matter of time."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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